Not withstanding my irritation about Lib Dem campaign techniques, a sincere well done to the Bromley and Chislehurst team.Â I wrote my post last night suspecting that it was going to be close; the fact that it was as close as it was does of course give me pause for thought.
With the majority slashed to 633, could I have made the difference between winning and losing if I’d gone to help a couple more times?Â My efforts certainly would have probably slashed a few more votes off.
The aftermath of this campaign will be interesting.Â The Tories are already spinning that the Lib Dems ran a very nasty and personalised campaign.Â The truth is, we did, but not entirely without justification.Â It is legitimate to question how good a job Bob Neill will do if he also has responsibilities in the GLA, although frankly I suspect it is the other residents of his Bromley and Bexley GLA seat who will suffer from poor representation rather than the ones in Bromley and Chislehurst who will now get to decide whether or not he gets to keep his seat at the next general election.Â Attacking him for being a barrister is a less strong argument, ditto his seat on the North East London SHA (although his admission that he knowingly signed a false statement on his nomination form ought to make the Bar Council raise an eyebrow or two).
I’m not convinced it was in the Lib Dems’ best interests to make so much of the campaign about him, however.Â Pretty much all the literature I’ve seen was either about Bob Neill or the World Cup.Â Maybe I’m naive about expecting us to campaign on what the Lib Dems stand for, but it does seem to me that had we won, it would have been a bit of an empty victory.Â It will also now only enforce the image of the party as dirty campaigners.
All parties go negative: the Tory campaign in the seat I helped in in 2005 was one of the nastiest I’ve ever seen.Â Fortunately, it was also one of the most incompetent.Â Iain Dale, who loves accusing people of being the proverbial pot calling the kettle black, spent pretty much the whole of the two years leading up to his crushing defeat in North Norfolk personally attacking Norman Lamb MP on the most spurious of grounds.Â The Tories are in no position to take the moral high ground over this, but that won’t stop them, and it seems to me we’ve made it just that little bit easier for them to do so.